Locrian – Territories

Locrian - Territories[lp At War With False Noise/Basses frequences/Bloodlust!/Small Doses]
In recent interviews, the main men behind Locrian declare a penchant for an almost naturalist pessimism, although theirs is more down-to-earth, rational, than all the Tolkien-associated platitudes one usually finds in metal. Still, as humans do, they try to find some beauty in the sorrow that is the result of nature’s brutal indifference. The cover of the album is evocative of the cosmic parameters within which humankind’s existence is but a flicker of a candle. The music within attempts to reconstruct the despondency in sound by seeking a middle course between noise and metal. “Territories” is the latest monument of Locrian’s artistic gesture.

“Inverted Ruins”, the first track on the album, starts with a squealing guitar and muffled, rather boorish vocals. The tension is slowly built up, the dynamics become increasingly intense. The high pitch guitar sound detracts, irritatingly, from the incrementally loud bass heavy sonic maelstrom, impressively engulfing the musical space that is created. The slow tempo in the rhythm area, however, isn’t particularly inventive here. All in all, there is a distinctive lack of cohesion, of integration of the various musical elements.

The second track on the LP, “Between Barrows”, which counts among its instrumentation saxophone & organ, is very reminiscent of the latest Sunn O))), but less successful in its functionality. It radiates a mournful feel through its slow-paced mood but doesn’t get anywhere close to redemption. Is that because Locrian are such humanists that they have already given up (Enttäuschungsverarbeitung you could call it, or rather just an unwillingness to think through, in sound, the dialectics here)? The use of cymbals on this track is fairly typical for Black Metal, but also nothing special here.

As its title suggests, the central third track is more violent (“Procession of Ancestral Brutalism”), but whilst it follows straightforward black metal guidelines for building up the tension it lacks the sheer rousing impact of a Khanate, if I may say so. Whereas Khanate, or their latest incarnation Jodis (so no O’Malley), impress mightily with their half metal-half improv sound paintings Locrian come off as dogged plodders who project a similar trajectory, but remain stuck in a halfway house toward a unity of genres. The atmosphere is, a fortiori, one of oppression rather than electrification. Perhaps it’s sheerly a matter of technical skill. But perhaps comparing Locrian to Khanate is unfair, given that Khanate is arguably the very best that black metal, if we put a label to it, has produced in the last 10 years.

Also, if considered as pure noise/drone, Robedoor, say, manages a more varied approach to the spatialization of sound and the expressive-abstractionist potential of Noise. Nevertheless, the thunderous bass effects on “Ring Road”, in tandem with the dark synths, whose emulation of the sound of storms remind me somewhat of the endlessly undulating magnetic tape reels on the closing track of Caspar Brötzmann’s insuperable Koksofen LP, are like blocks of sound as tectonic plates that literally shift the ground beneath your feet. The synths in their turn evoke some devotionality amidst the sinisterness. In the background, the shrill guitar line remains monotonous almost until the very end. Here, on this track, I think Locrian reach farthest out.

“Antediluvian Territory” is an instrumental interlude of drone and comparatively clare et distincte guitar chords, which introduces the pinnacle of the album, track 6, “The Columnless Arcade”. It starts interestingly as a feedback drenched adagietto, but its rich dynamics is suddenly, without necessary development, intruded by guitar riffing and staccato percussion, which subsequently becomes a moderately pedestrian marching drum pattern. It certainly doesn’t betray the skills of a Wyskida and the hoary guitarline is more rock than metal. Disappointing.

The sound of the album is not terribly hifi – but I’m listening to this on a low-grade cd-r promo, so I trust that the vinyl is top-notch, seeing that it is mastered at Chicago Mastering Service. “Territories” is not at all a bad album, but even though it straddles the two opposites of noise and metal fairly decently it is also not breaking new territory.

**deze recensie verschijnt ook op Foxy Digitalis**

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